1996 Poker

Where were you on this day in 1996?  Where was the world?

In September of 1996 I started my freshman year in high school.  Most of the people in my home town (in New Jersey, praise be to Bruce) lived there because their parents worked for the local Ingersoll Rand plant, or the industrial park in nearby Allentown Pennsylvania.  Both are closed now.  No one I knew had a cell phone, and only a handful of people had bulky desktop computers with access to the “world wide web.”

I remember reading a newly released book by one of my Dad’s favorite authors, Carl Sagan.  In it was a passage that I never appreciated, and at the time equated to something from George Orwell’s 1984.  Until I saw it on reddit this morning, exactly 16 years later.  Reading it now, the only thing I would change about it, is that it is written in future tense.

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United Sates is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

–Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World (1996)

Joyful, right?  When I read it, by brain automatically substitutes iPhones for crystals and Facebook for horoscopes.

I want to go back to 1996.  Help me throw back to a simpler, brighter time.  Let’s play some poker and listen to some Springsteen!  I already popped a zit on my chin this morning and then ate lunch by myself, so I’m halfway back to high school already!

Bring the booze you liked in 1996.  Bring the music you listened to in 1996.  And think up at least one story from where you were in 1996.  And RSVP so I know how many more friends I have now than I did before I got my braces off…


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